The Rise of Social-First Publishers
A new category of publishers has arrived: "social-first" publishers or "distributed" publishers. These content creators, like Tasty, NowThis, and Gamology (a gaming brand under my company Keli Network) are changing the scope of publishing. They create content designed for, and exclusively distributed on, social media. With a mix of creativity and foresight they are reshaping traditional media.
Last year, 62% of adults got their news from social media, pointing to the importance and effectiveness of content (including advertising content) created for social. As content creators look to craft future social strategies, they should understand the factors that have led to social creators’ success.
Design Content Specifically for Social Platforms
There are some clear differences between content that performs well on Facebook versus Instagram and YouTube. With Facebook, it’s important to use subtitles in your social videos or you’ll lose your audience within a few seconds; Instagram is perfect for creative short stories; and YouTube should be used for long form videos.
The key to understanding content creation in the digital age lies in grasping the intricacies of social platforms. What may work on Twitter won’t work on Snapchat. Unlike traditional methods, social-first publishers have had the foresight to design their content specifically for whichever platform they’re targeting. Contrarily, brands who modify their existing content to social rather than create content with social in mind will not have the same levels of success.
Make Content Easy to Access
For social-first publishers, building their own website is not considered to be a necessary step in order to be seen and heard. Unlike traditional content strategies, they are free from the pressure to create the perfect site and can use their resources more effectively.
They choose social platforms that already have a large user-base, produce high-quality content, and then optimize it for their target audiences. Social creators such as NowThis, Tasty, and Gamology consumers don’t want to be redirected to another site. They engage with consumers primarily on social and ensure their content is easy-to-access.
Why does this matter? For two reasons.
First, it’s because the user experience is immediately improved because consumers are able to engage with compelling content on one platform, without needing to leave it. Secondly, there’s the matter of the reach. Social-first publishers have the benefit of reaching larger audiences on multiple platforms. Strategically targeting millions of consumers is easier than attempting to redirect them somewhere else. Sometimes it is smarter to find and engage with the consumer, rather than have them find you, or worse, your competition.
Treat Ads as Content
With major reach, comes a major opportunity for monetization through advertising. In the age of video, for social-first publishers this means pre-roll and mid-roll advertising as well as sponsored posts, which are rapidly gaining traction as a method to reach consumers.
For social-first publishers that create sponsored content, it’s time to lose the traditional approach. Ads are just as important as the content you create; approach them with the same level of creativity and strategy as you would your other content. They must still engage, tell a story, and fit the format or they will fall flat.
With social, there are thousands of messages competing for consumers’ attention. It’s important to stand out and create content that consumers actually want to see and talk about.
By aiming to create sponsored content that starts conversations, brands and social-first publishers alike can reap the full benefits of social content, namely that engagement with said content can take place directly on the platform.
As consumers increasingly turn to social for news and entertainment, social-first publishers will become more influential. If content creators incorporate some of the tactics used by social channel creators, they too, will reshape the publishing world.
Michael Philippe serves as the CEO of The Keli Network, which he co-founded with Robin Rabban and Swann Maizil. In 2016, Michael Philippe left France to run The Keli Network from its headquarters in New York City. Michael Philippe has a Master’s degree from ESCP Europe, winning the school’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship award in 2009.